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  • Writer's pictureLexi Eimbinder

You don't get what you don’t ask for: negotiating rent

For most, rent is the single most significant monthly expense. More often than not, when it comes time to renew your lease, landlords are more than ready to increase your rent – and unless you live in a rent-stabilized apartment, they can legally increase the amount as much as they like at the end of your agreement and with adequate notice. Although, you are not entirely at their mercy. Whether you live in a rent-regulated or free-market building, and whether you are looking to sign a new lease or re-sign your current one, there are a few things you can do to create leverage in order to negotiate your rental terms!

Below are the factors you should consider when approaching a rental negotiation in order to show up prepared and confident to advocate for your best financial interests with a landlord.

Before all else, identify the following for yourself:

(1) Your ideal - and realistic - rent dollar amount

(2) Your negotiation range or “wiggle room”

(3) Your non-negotiable maximum amount you will not go above

1. Know the market rate

Understand how much similar apartments in your neighborhood (or even street) are going for in order to make sure the price your landlord is offering is in line with the current market. Use this to benchmark the price you pay and negotiate for a lower, fairer rent if possible. The market rate is probably the core piece of supporting evidence for your ideal rent request.

2. Identify your landlord’s legal limitations

If your landlord has raised your rent, make sure they are doing it legally. Review your contract and the state’s housing laws to make sure they are giving you adequate notice. Likewise, if you live in a rent-stabilized building (which is 50% of apartments in NYC), make sure the increase does not exceed the limit set by law.

3. The timing of your ask matters

Two to three months before your lease is up is a standard time to approach your landlord. This will give you time to negotiate and consider your options. If possible, you might want to strategically make your ask in the winter months, as the summer market is more competitive.

4. You have more to offer than you think – consider all bargaining possibilities

Your landlord doesn’t want to feel like they are getting the shorter end of the stick. In exchange for lowering (or not raising) your rent, give your landlord something in return. This might be prepaying your rent a few months in advance or signing an extended lease (to lock you in for a longer period of time, typically at a lower or constant rate).

5. Rent isn’t the only thing you can negotiate

If your landlord won't budge, your negotiations can take place in terms of other expenses like utilities, amenities, or repairs. Think about what else besides money would you accept.

5. Remind your landlord why they should keep you

Vacancies cost landlords money — they lose rent while they clean, repair, and show the apartment. There is also no guarantee of how a new tenant will behave. Remind your landlord that you are respectful, pay your rent on time, and never had any complaints.

Finally, once you and your landlord secure a concession, get it on paper.


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